During investigations into the so-called Kenton lead blob, the KNA learned that the Portland International Raceway (PIR) still allows racers to use leaded fuels. Given the recent concerns for lead around the neighborhood, the KNA questioned the city of Portland, which owns and operates the track through the bureau of Portland Parks & Recreation, about the continued use of these fuels back in May.
Following several months of looking into the issue, Eileen Argentina–Manager for the Recreation Services Division–recently released a statement responding to the KNA:
Thank you for your patience regarding your questions about the use of leaded gas use at PIR. After researching the history of regulation of lead in gas, and consulting with our Health, Safety, and Environmental Consultant, we are confident that use of leaded gas at PIR events complies with applicable EPA regulations designed to protect public health. The proportion of vehicles using leaded gas at PIR is relatively small and over the long term has been declining. However, for some vehicles and some events, it continues to be an essential component of competitive racing and the PIR experience.
We understand and appreciate the concerns that led to your inquiry. At this time, we are not making any change to the current practice of allowing some vehicles to use leaded gas. If additional information comes to light that suggests the need for a re-evaluation, we will of course be willing to do that.
We’ve had a chance to review the documentary produced by the Kenton resident who initially raised the issue of leaded gas being used at PIR. The documentary clearly has a much broader focus and recognizes the complexity of tracking and analyzing causal factors when exploring toxins in our environment. In the end, it reinforces our understanding that by far the source of greatest concern for lead contamination remains lead paint. This is where PP&R is currently concentrating its efforts – through the testing and remediation of lead paint on play equipment.
Thank you – we value the ongoing dialogue that we have with you and look forward to continuing that work together.
Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, who lives in and represents Kenton as part of House District 44, has decided to issue her own statement back to the city at the request of the KNA. Please see the Speaker’s letter below: